Thriving High Street Precincts in Melbourne’s South East
Article | 3min read
by JONES REAL ESTATE on December 12, 2023
Melbourne is renowned for its rich culture and diverse neighbourhoods. And for each neighbourhood, there’s often a ‘High Street’ that services the surrounding residential catchment with important amenity like supermarkets, chemists and specialty retailers.
While all High Streets have humble beginnings, some have evolved into much more than a little strip of shops – growing into sprawling precincts that bring in international tourism and contribute to Melbourne’s vibrant urban fabric.
Among these iconic destinations in Melbourne’s leafy east, High Street in Armadale, Glenferrie Road in Hawthorn and Chapel Street in South Yarra stand out as prominent retail and cultural arterials. Let’s take a look at these precincts and explore their future potential as hubs for commerce and culture.
High Street, Armadale – arguably Melbourne’s best boutique shopping strip
The history of High Street in Armadale goes back to the 1850s, where the precinct underwent bouts of development that delivered the beautiful Victorian and Edwardian-era buildings it’s known for.
Along with its name, it still enjoys many hallmarks of a traditional High Street like cafes and dining at Willow Urban Retreat Cafe and Amaru, art galleries such as Studio Gallery, PLUME and Expressions – however, it is the strip’s growing list of high-end boutiques that have made it the beating heart for luxury retail in Melbourne.
Being home to leading brands including Dion Lee, Désordre Boutique, Camilla and Marc, Zimmerman, Scanlan Theodore, Venroy and Bec + Bridge, as well as a host of other luxury labels like Natasha Schweitzer, In Bed, The Memo and Sener Besim, there’s no denying that High Street in Armadale has become the ‘it precinct’ for local and international labels.
This will no doubt underpin steady valuation growth for commercial property owners in the area, as more luxury brands gravitate towards the arterial to open their dream store amongst an affluent mix of local residents.
A new High Street store Jones Real Estate loves is Bassike, a flagship from the sustainability-driven brand that blends mid-century charm and minimalism to create a high-end fashion utopia.
We recently shared our thoughts on how retailers, like that of Bassike, are evolving their stores to create immersive brand experiences and shopping journeys that cannot be matched by ecommerce. You can learn more via this link.
Photography: Courtesy of Bassike / Sean Fenessy.
Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn – a fantastic thoroughfare for foodies
Since its humble beginnings as a route between Hawthorn and the Melbourne Central Business District, Glenferrie Road has naturally shifted away from its broad retail roots to become a hotspot for hospitality and food, thanks to the range of eateries and food stores that call it home.
Some of the businesses that have put Glenferrie on the culinary map include the first ever Grill’d burger restaurant, Italian-inspired eateries Santoni Pizza and Rococo’s and popular cafes including Short Straw, while local institutions like Continental Deli, Haigh’s Chocolate and Glenferrie Gourmet Meats have made solid contributions to its offering too.
Thanks to the arterial’s proximity to prestigious schools like Xavier College, Methodist Ladies College and Carey Grammar, as well as Swinburne University of Technology, Glenferrie Road’s retail market is fiercely contested, which provides strong foundations for valuation growth and a tantalising investment prospect for Melbourne commercial property professionals and owners.
Chapel Street, South Yarra – a preeminent retail, hospitality and entertainment hub
There are not many main strips in Melbourne that have interwoven hospitality, entertainment, retail and commerce better than Chapel Street in South Yarra.
Extending over four kilometres from South Yarra to Balaclava, the Chapel Street precinct exudes an electric energy, making it one of Melbourne’s most recognised and celebrated high street precincts.
The Chapel Street worker population is well supported by a broad everyday retail mix, with Coles, Dan Murphy’s and Woolworths all occupying key sites along the strip, while institutional dining options like Morris Jones, Electric Bar, Hawker Hall and Mr Miyagi are just a few of the iconic hot spots to grace the Street.
Thanks to developments like the Jam Factory and the popularity of national clothing franchises like Country Road, Tony Bianco and shoe shop Platypus, this creates another layer of attractiveness for the precinct that has helped it become a drawcard for shoppers and foodies alike.
While the pandemic impacted the area hard, the Chapel Street precinct is returning to its former glory, with significant developer activity taking place such as the $1.5 billion Jam Factory revitalisation from Gurner, Qualitas and Newmark Capital, as well as a new $250 million hotel and office project by Oreana Group – both of which signify renewed commercial confidence in the area.
Furthermore, infrastructure projects like the South Yarra station renewal and new high-density apartment projects like Capitol Grand will continue to improve commercial property valuations, as accessibility to the area and its catchment of residents increases.